Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - High-flying snapper’s airport portrait exhibition



High-flying snapper’s airport portrait exhibition

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Portraits of workers were superimposed against flowery backdrops. William Ropp/French Institute

High-flying snapper’s airport portrait exhibition

Photographic students get a chance to learn from one of the best during workshops sponsored by Cambodia Airports

Cambodia’s airports became photographic studios in preparation for a new exhibition of portraiture at Phnom Penh’s French Institute.

Sponsored by Cambodia Airports, French photographer William Ropp spent about a month teaching 10 students from the institute’s photography school the finer points of the photographic style as they took portraits of workers at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports.

Ropp – whose collections are featured around the world from the New York Public Library to Paris’s Maison Européenne pour la Photographie – said for the exhibition, The Mysterious Art of the Portrait, the workers were digitally superimposed against flowery backdrops to “counter” the subjects’ “sadness”.

“It’s a very hard job, and I could perceive this sadness, so I countered it,” he said.

Student Soun Sayon, a 29-year-old civil engineer, said it was a challenge to get the employees to open up for the cameras.

“We thought we disturbed them a lot, but we tried to engage with them. We tried to get close to them and talk nicely to them,” he said, adding that the subjects felt more comfortable as time went on.

Ropp said he had never shot in an airport before, but years of commissioned work had conditioned him to working in strange conditions.

An old friend from art school who had gone into the potato business had once asked him to join an exhibition highlighting the starchy vegetable.

“When he told me to [take photos of] potatoes, I had no idea. It was a funny one,” he said.

The result was a potato attached to a fish, which is now one of Ropp’s photographic calling cards.

While Ropp said the workshops at the airports had been successful, he wished he had time for a personal project.

The workshops were only meant to run over three days, but Ropp ended up spending the whole month helping the students get ready for the exhibition.

“Every time I arrive in a country I escape from the capital because it’s not the right place for me to photograph people,” said the portrait specialist.

“I try to really be the cocoon to make a picture, and it is really impossible in a city because they are stressed and always rushed,” he said.

The Mysterious Art of the Portrait launches at the French Institute on September 3 at 6:30pm.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Cambodia purchases 4 million Molnupiravir tablets

    Cambodia has arranged for the purchase of four million US-made Molnupiravir pills – enough to treat 100,000 Covid-19 patients – even though the current rate of daily infections in Cambodia remains low. The medicine will be distributed to state hospitals, pharmacies and private clinics, according to the Samdech

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • Cambodia planning new border checkpoint at Thma Da

    Cambodia is looking into the possibility of opening a new Thma Da Border Checkpoint with Thailand to boost trade and tourism. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport said on December 4 that Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol led a technical working group

  • Hun Sen: Manet to be candidate for prime minister

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has reaffirmed that his oldest son Hun Manet will be his successor as Prime Minister if he is elected. Speaking during the inauguration of a new sewage treatment facility in Preah Sihanouk province on December 2, Hun Sen said Manet will be